Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Knowledge is Power: My Race & Cancer

I have been meaning to write this for a while so here we go. I never dreamt that I would be going through this in my 20s. Going through this I have heard numerous stories of Fijians who are either battling cancer, some have won the battle (props to you!) and unfortunately some have succumb to it. I think I was more unprepared when I had it because as a child growing up back home I was never around anyone who had it. The people who passed away that I knew was either because of old age and something else other than cancer. I really did not know what to expect and how to deal with it. I think we need to be more aware and educated about it for our own benefit.

I can remember back then the mentality I had. I was young and healthy, there was no way I could have cancer. I can say now that was naive and ignorant on my part.

There's numerous types of cancer. Go here if you want to read up on it: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/alphalist
What is cancer?

So come to find out I had history in my family of cancer in my family. More recently my Mom's younger sister passed away last August  (on my birthday:o( ) of leukemia which is cancer of the blood.

Knowledge is power

If you know there's history in your family don't sit back and hope that it will not happen to you. If its in your family, you have a 50% chance. Get the appropriate testings done. It is always good to be ahead of the game.

Ladies if you are 40 and over, start getting those mammograms underway. Read more about it here: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/detection/mammograms
For women under 40 its still a battle for the insurance to cover but I have heard of cases where they covered it because the patient had family history of cancer.

They also have genetic testing that you could do specifically to find out if you have the breast cancer gene. Read about it here: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/BRCA

You need to be pro-active for yourself. They have studies showing environmental factors that bring about cancers. So you don't only have to have family history to have cancer. Just catching things early always makes a big difference in treatment and your survival.

Here's my story:
Late October 2007 I discovered a lump, my sister set me up for an appointment where I got the biopsy. I was 24 when I was first diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. The type of cancer was Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC). It was malignant.  The lump measured about 5cm across. I had a lumpectomy to remove the lump. They also checked my lymph nodes and it was all clear. Started with chemo therapy 2 weeks later and started radiation a few months into chemotherapy. It was such a tough time for us but we made it by the grace of God. I am glad it did break us back then. Let me tell you  having faith in God is so vital. Don't tell me otherwise, I have been through too much to believe that. Life went on after that.

July 10th 2010 I was back in the hospital because of a tumor to my eye. Had radiation and started chemo. A certain hospital is San Jose told me I had only 6 months to 12 months to live and I have Stage 4....Its going to be a year in the next 2 weeks baby and I am still here!!!! No we are not going down without a fight!!  Thank you Lord for getting me through!! Family and friends are a vital support system.

Transferred to Stanford in September. Got an aggressive treatment plan after the review of the new scans. Did chemo therapy, lost my hair and my eyebrows..:o) Had surgery in Jan 2011. Next surgery was in March 2011.  Started chemo again a week after surgery. Hair grew back- thank you Jesus! I just need eyebrows to catch up..:o) I am so blessed to have great doctors and great care! With all the tiredness and things that come with it, it can be so difficult to be thankful. But I am very thankful to be still here.

It is physically, emotionally and mentally draining to go through this but what is the price on your life and good health? Life and good health are priceless and should not be taken for granted. I want to stay around to see my nephews and nieces grow up and make some of our life long dreams come true.

Get checked and be pro-active!! There is so many resources out there. Also check out the American Cancer Society: http://www.cancer.org/ They have a lot of useful information.

If this has helped even one person, I have met my goal.

Have a great day!
God bless.

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